Have you ever wished for a proven, experience-based roadmap to career search success? Whether you’re new to the job market, looking to rise within your profession, or new to a particular job industry, the career search process can be intimidating, daunting, and overwhelming. We often attempt to bypass job search anxiety by diving deep into job boards, investing in expensive new interview outfits, or practicing elevator pitches in front of the mirror, but despite our best attempts to predict the outcomes of career search efforts, experience always proves to be the best teacher.
That’s why Zoetic Resume and Writing Services is pleased to provide you with first-hand experiences and insider knowledge from career professionals in a variety of job industries. Zoetic’s Insider Knowledge for Career Search Success blog series is designed to bring resources and career search success tips to the comfort of your own living room. Join in as we discover the key components and pivotal strategies for a variety of career search success stories, including internships and career changes. Together we’ll capitalize on the unique opportunity to hear from those who’ve achieved career search success and generously allow us to gain insight from their experiences.
Career Search Success: An Intern’s Perspective
Next up in our career search success blog series, we’re sitting down with Kenleigh, a sports medicine student who recently gained a strategic internship position. Together we’ll learn how Kenleigh discovered her ideal internship opportunities and leveraged specific tools to land the role. We’ll also explore the ways her unique job industry prioritizes experience over coursework and how Kenleigh navigated industry-specific education preferences while earning her degree.
What is your current field of study/college major?
Major in Sport Management, minor in business
What educational achievements or opportunities helped you obtain an internship in your current career industry?
Related work experience helped me gain an internship in my industry. In the sport management field, experience through paid work, internships, and volunteer work is highly valued compared to coursework and GPA. I choose to work and intern in settings that contribute to advancing my skill set.
What does your education-to-internship timeline look like in terms of years of study, graduation, and landing an internship?
For my undergraduate requirements, I must complete two internships. For the first internship, I’m required to complete 130 hours in a semester and for the second internship, I’m required to complete 370 hours in a semester (full-time). After graduation, I hope to be done with internships, having had two internships and plenty of work experience while working during the school year and the summer. I would not be surprised if I found myself in another internship after graduating because working in the sports industry straight out of college is difficult. I would like to have a paid position with movement available out of college.
What barriers did you encounter when attempting to land an internship?
The biggest barrier to landing an internship is not having enough prior experience. Every sport industry undergraduate struggles to get their foot in the door because employers seek experience more than anything. Where do you start when intern employers want experience, but you haven’t yet been given a chance to gain that experience? All sport industry undergraduate students start at rock bottom. After that, if you put the effort in, it’s just a climb. Another big barrier is compensation. Most internships in the sport industry are unpaid, especially when you’re at the bottom of the ladder. This makes internships difficult to justify and often requires that students find another job to compensate for the unpaid internship.
Did you need to make any significant compromises when accepting your internship?
The biggest compromise is no compensation for internships. Additionally, the time of day required by most sport industry internships is difficult to manage and generally inconvenient. Most sport-related internship work takes place in the evening, so it takes a lot of time away from socializing with friends and family.
Can you describe one or two of your 5-year career goals? What motivated you to set these goals and what do you hope to achieve by reaching these goals?
One of my five-year goals is to be working within a college athletic department in either a marketing or sponsorship sales position. I fully understand this position is unlikely to be prestigious, but I will be happy working my way up. I also hope to be working on a master’s degree in whatever focus within the sport industry I am most interested in at that time. My time working at the NBA Summer League certainly motivated me to achieve these goals. By working there, I saw what it was like to work with a highly-acclaimed organization and realized that type of atmosphere is where I want to be. Additionally, working in my university athletic department has motivated me to continue working in that type of atmosphere as well.
What are some of your favorite questions to ask potential employers while being interviewed?
I like to ask what additional opportunities are available with this role. Are there opportunities to help in and with different departments? By asking these questions, not only are potential employers clued in about my strong work ethic, but I also learn which opportunities are available to further my skill set. I also like to ask about time commitments and time frame ranges. Working hours in the sport industry fluctuate so much. Lastly, I like to ask potential employers about growth opportunities and advancement within the role I’m applying to. Knowing where my time and effort in the organization can lead keeps me motivated.
What are some of the best questions you’ve been asked by potential employers while being interviewed?
An interesting question I have been asked by potential employers while being interviewed was, “Name a time when you were exposed to classified information and how that is important to keep to yourself.” I had never heard this question before in an interview and it makes a lot of sense. Privacy considerations are important skills to have and understanding what to keep to yourself is critical in the sport industry. There is a lot of classified information I am exposed to, especially when working with teams, coaches, players, and competitors. Understanding how to protect the privacy of all involved is very important and the question made me think outside the box and hone my skills in new ways.
How did you translate education and previous work experience into marketable metrics that appealed to employers in your new career industry?
One of my classes this previous semester was “Sport Event and Facility Management.” In the course, we were asked to create and execute our own sporting event. Through the experience, I learned a variety of new skills from multiple sport-related concentrations. This helped me a lot in making myself marketable to employers because they love to see a variety of experiences, examples, and applications. It also helps that I can speak from other intern and work experiences, like working in a University Athletic Department and for the NBA Summer League. I strategically sought those experiences out to help boost my marketability and appeal to potential employers.
What tools did you use to find and land your internship? (i.e., resume, cover letter, LinkedIn, digital portfolio, etc.)
I have used LinkedIn, career fairs, job fairs, and networking. I landed internships because I focused on good recommendations, networking, and prior experience in a variety of sport-related skill areas.
How has networking (both in-person and digitally) affected your success as an intern?
Networking is arguably the most important aspect of my success thus far. I hardly use job search platforms to find internships; I found my internship opportunities mostly through discussions with colleagues and professors. Furthermore, almost all of the internships and positions I’ve landed were obtained in part through network recommendations. I have learned through each of these experiences that networking and connecting to others is extremely important in this industry.
What advice, tips, or tricks do you have for current internship-seekers?
NETWORK! It is intimidating at first, but like most things, once you get started, your efforts create a snowball effect. Networks interconnect. The odds of two connections knowing each other are high, and the odds of one of those connections knowing another person who might benefit from your skills is high, and so on. The more you connect with colleagues in your industry, the more your name will be known, and the more your name is known, the better your chances of landing an interview. Another piece of advice I would offer is to not give up just because you’re at the beginning. Sometimes getting started is intimidating and confusing and it feels like you’ll never grow your network. Once you begin and keep going, however, it will happen. Everyone starts at the bottom. Success depends on your ability to focus on the light ahead of you and continue your climb up.
Are you a student or new graduate seeking a leg-up in the internship application process? Zoetic Resume and Writing Service specializes in translating your experiences into professional metrics, impressive key skills, and eye-catching accomplishments. We’ll take an individualized look at your education, work history, and volunteer experiences to find the most applicable resume bullet points for your dream internship. Connect with me here to learn more about my graduate packages, resume audit services, and LinkedIn profile improvement options.